Capitals

Doc Rivers criticizes NBA fine against Spurs

Doc Rivers criticizes NBA fine against Spurs

BOSTON (AP) Celtics coach Doc Rivers criticized the NBA's fine against the San Antonio Spurs after they kept four top players out of a game.

He said Friday he didn't think the $250,000 fine announced by Commissioner David Stern would stop coaches from sitting players.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sent Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green back to San Antonio before Thursday night's 105-100 loss at the Miami Heat. It ended a six-game road trip in which the Spurs played four games in the last five days.

Before Thursday's game, Stern said ``substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.''

That ``reaction'' to the absence of the players ``was probably overdone,'' Rivers said before Boston's game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, ``and then, all of a sudden, you have to have an action'' by punishing the Spurs.

And he said he didn't like the penalty.

``I do get the other side, but it's a tough one,'' he said. ``You've got to coach your team to win in the long run and you have to do whatever you need to do. If that's sitting players, you sit players.''

The Spurs ``did a disservice to the league and our fans,'' Stern said. ``The Spurs decided to make four of their top players unavailable for an early-season game that was the team's only regular-season visit to Miami. The team also did this without informing the Heat, the media, or the league office in a timely way.''

But Rivers said he didn't think the punishment would influence coaches to use players if they don't want to play them.

``Whatever is going to help your team win, a coach is going to do,'' he said, ``because if you don't and it hurts your team then you're the one that won't be around.''

So he won't avoid sitting players out because the Spurs were fined.

``We'll do it when we want to do it and we should be able to do it,'' Rivers said. ``It could be early in the season, the end of the season.''

Rivers was without point guard Rajon Rondo on Friday night because of another NBA decision - a two-game suspension resulting from a scuffle during Wednesday night's 95-83 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. He'll also miss Saturday night's game at the Milwaukee Bucks.

Rondo was ``not happy,'' Rivers said. ``He expected it. He didn't know (how long) it was going to be. We didn't make a big deal of it.''

Courtney Lee started in his place on Friday night.

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Possible playoff opponents for the Capitals are starting to come into focus

Possible playoff opponents for the Capitals are starting to come into focus

With their 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, the Capitals' playoff future is starting to come into focus. Washington has only one game remaining and can finish in either third or fourth in the round robin standings. That limits the number of possible playoff opponents for the Caps when the games really start to matter.

First, before talking about who the Caps may play, it is important to remember why. Under the NHL's regular format, a normal year would see teams advance in a bracket, meaning each team knows going in they will be playing the winner of a specific matchup if they advance. This year, the NHL is going back to its old format of re-seeding after each round. This makes determining matchups a bit harder to figure out.

Here's what we know. The Caps are going to finish in the bottom half of the round robin meaning they will play one of the highest two seeded teams coming out of the qualifying round. The Carolina Hurricanes swept their qualifying round series against the New York Rangers. As the No. 6 seed coming in, Carolina is going to be one of the top two qualifying round teams.

RELATED: DEFENSIVE BREAKDOWNS AND MORE FROM CAPS LOSS TO FLYERS

Washington's final seed will be determined by Sunday's game against the Boston Bruins. A win in regulation, overtime or a shootout will mean the Caps are No. 3, while a loss in any fashion will bump them down to No. 4.

The simplest scenario for Washington is that If the Pittsburgh Penguins rally to win their series against the Montreal Canadiens, the Caps are guaranteed to play either Pittsburgh or Carolina as the No. 5 and 6 seeds, respectively. It gets a little trickier if the Penguins lose. If that happens, the Hurricanes become the top qualifying team and will play No. 4. The top team behind them then becomes No. 6 which, as of now, could be the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs or the Columbus Blue Jackets.

So a rematch with the Hurricanes is a definite possibility for the Caps, as is a matchup with the rival Penguins.

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Pelicans' star rookie Zion Williamson out vs. Wizards

Pelicans' star rookie Zion Williamson out vs. Wizards

The Wizards will have to wait until next year to face Zion Williamson for the first time.

The Pelicans' star rookie will sit out on Friday night as the Wizards face New Orleans at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Williamson is resting on the second night of a back-to-back. The Pelicans played the Kings on Thursday night.

The Wizards also missed Williamson last July in the Summer League after he suffered a knee injury in his first game in Las Vegas. They also had one of their games this season against the Pelicans cancelled due to the NBA's long hiatus because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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Someday, the Wizards will see Williamson and when they do, it will be interesting to watch him match up with Rui Hachimura, who was in the same draft class and plays the same position. Williamson was the No. 1 overall pick and Hachimura was picked ninth.

RELATED: HOW YOUNG PHENOMS HAVE FARED AGAINST WIZARDS

For now, the Wizards will battle a Pelicans team headlined by Brandon Ingram, Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball.

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